Betway’s bid for an online-only sports betting license in Illinois has been officially withdrawn. This was confirmed by Marcus Fruchter, Administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board on Thursday at the legal sports betting regulator’s meeting.
He reported that a third party related to the sports betting company requested permission to withdraw its application and it was approved by the commission.
Betway’s decision to withdraw its application marks the conclusion of the board’s supplemental licensing process. This process sought to identify qualifying operators for an online-only betting license in Illinois, however, no operator was issued this license.
The Land of Lincoln’s 2019 bill that legalized sports betting introduced “tethered” licenses, requiring operators to partner with physical gaming establishments. Additionally, the law allows for the issuance of three standalone licenses, obtainable through a competitive bidding procedure.
In both 2021 and 2022, the bidding process faced repeated failures with no bidders participating. To address this, the Illinois Gaming Board initiated a supplemental bidding opportunity earlier this year, during which Betway expressed interest.
During the initial online-only licensing process that concluded in Dec. 2021, the sports betting giant applied. Nevertheless, during the evaluation phase, Betway opted to withdraw its application.
The decision to withdraw from the process has once more resulted in all three standalone licenses remaining unclaimed. The specific reasons behind Betway’s choice to retract their interest in entering the Illinois betting market remain undisclosed.
There are speculations regarding the reasons behind this withdrawal or lack of interest. Some suggest that the hefty $20 million license fee might be a deterrent, while others are of the opinion that given Illinois’ status as a major sports betting market nationwide, the price appears reasonable.
When asked, Fruchter ended by saying:
“That’s all that we have to say about that at this time. But that process unfortunately comes to an end with no license to be issued at this time.”
Illinois Legal Sports Betting and the Betting 8
In 2019, legal sports betting in Illinois was passed through the state legislature as part of a substantial capital bill. This legislation, known as SP 690, was signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker on June 28.
Rivers Casino made history by becoming the first sportsbook to obtain a sports betting operating license in the state, and the first wager was placed on March 9, 2020. In June 2020, BetRivers launched as the state’s premier online sportsbook. Fast forward to March 2021, Illinois boasted six legal online sportsbooks, including BetRivers, FanDuel, PointsBet, Caesar Sportsbook, DraftKings, and Barstool Sportsbook.
Following the recent addition of Circa Sports, Illinois currently is home to eight legal online sportsbooks. Prior to Circa’s license approval, BetMGM became the seventh sportsbook in the state in Jan. 2022. Within just three years of legalizing sports betting, Illinois has solidified its position as one of the largest betting markets in the United States.
Unibet is aspiring to become a part of the ranks, as the sportsbook’s application is currently under evaluation. During the recent meeting of the regulatory body, Fruchter shared that the initial vote on the Management Service Provider license for Unibet was being tabled. If granted, Unibet would be tethered to Argosy Casino Alton.